10 Changes All Future Pokémon Games Need To Make
Z-Moves feels like a direct response to the success of Mega Evolution in competitive battling, based on the way that GameFreak has all but abandoned Mega Evolution, putting their chips on Z-Moves.
Like X & Y did originally, they based a lot of Sun & Moon around collecting the necessary tools for Z-Moves, and teaching players how to do them. Unfortunately, they're just not as game-changing as developers might have hoped.
Z-Moves sort of work, but they're so insignificant to the majority of battling that they feel pointless. Their animations run an unbelievably long time, and they're mostly shoehorned in, to the point that it seems like no one understood why Mega Evolution worked.
Mega Evolution was a small change, boosting the stats and abilities of one Pokémon on the team, but it all depended on the player. For some, it might not matter much, but if played smartly, then a Mega Evolution could win battles. Z-Moves don't change the course of entire battles, they're just a gimmick. Flashy, hollow, and GameFreak would have been better off expanding the roster of Mega Pokémon instead of nearly abolishing them.
9. More Expansive Post-Games
It is possible that the series hit a peak with post-games in Black 2 & White 2.
The game already had a massive amount of content to delve into before finishing the game, but it capped that off with a wide variety of tasks and areas to explore afterward. This is vital to most games, giving them enough to do after the credits roll. Most main stories run out quick, so having options to entertain the player indefinitely can sell a game.
However, X & Y suffered from having almost no post-game.
A small subplot, one new city, and capturing five legendary Pokémon is all they had to offer. It's the kind of stuff that's wrapped up in less than a day, and Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire are nearly as bad. The Delta Episode, the primary post-game quest, devolves into a couple of battles and flying back and forth through the region, turning the quest into something utterly tedious.
There was a decent amount of post-game in Sun & Moon, but if they could return to treasure trove of content like BW2, it'd propel the games forward immensely.
8. Simplify The Features
Most gamers are familiar with the developers who can't seem to get a hang on what features worked and what didn't. With each new game, the opportunity to innovate battles and mechanics are taken, and some hit, and some miss.
Mega Evolution was a rare moment of brilliance, and the way it changed the course of competitive battling with its logical but inventive progression was a remarkable success, but not everything has landed in the same way.
These evolutions were accompanied by myriad other tweaks that didn't bring the same energy to the games. Sure, capturing Pokémon gives experience points now, and Pokémon Amie worked to some degree if you enjoyed the minigames, but the new styles of battle (like the boring Horde Battles or annoyingly hard Sky Battles) failed to make an impact.
It would be preferable if they made the features less intrusive, only giving tutorials if players agree to them, unlike Secret Bases, forcing the player to go through them to continue the game.
Making the games as straightforward as the player wants is important, and they can do so by scrapping any confusing or unnecessary changes, tweaking the games more gradually.
7. Make Competitive Battling Accessible
It is no easy thing to jump into the competitive scene of any game as a newcomer, but it is nigh-on impossible with Pokémon, and the developers are not making it any easier. With Pokémon, many of these challenges are not only present but exacerbated by the game's nature.
The player must build a team, where each has its own unique statistics and move sets, which might be manageable on its own, but then there are the ways to influence stats. There are Individual Values (IVs) which a Pokémon is given, and there is nothing to change that, so there is the time that goes into breeding six Pokémon with just the right stats for their species, which varies wildly.
Then there are Effort Values (EVs), which a player must train against specific Pokémon to enhance the natural stats of their team.
Though the stats are ridiculous for newcomers to take to immediately, the constant switching of features, weakening or strengthening moves at a whim between generations, they all make for an unwieldy beast of a game.
Despite Pokémon being a primarily single player game, it promises a rich multiplayer scene, but is then impossible for anyone not already well-versed in the game to join.
6. Better Villains
Team Skull was a disappointment, as evil crime syndicates bent on kidnapping people's beloved pets go. They pressed their 'gangster' gimmick to the extreme, and it screams of the writers trying too hard to capture the camp hilarity of Teams Rocket or Galactic. Whereas the incompetence of the latter two made for some funny moments, Team Skull is a PG Jesse Pinkman, throwing the word 'yo' in every sentence.
Whereas the previous teams had legitimate (albeit ridiculous) goals in mind, whether it's taking control of the region, the world, or even changing the weather more to your liking, they had plans.
Team Skull's plans are just to create havoc, not for any reason, they want to steal Pokémon because it messed up somebody's day. That might have worked as villains if they hadn't gone to such lengths in previous games to explore their crime syndicates.
Team Plasma had incredibly complex motives for why they stole, and their reasoning of Pokémon liberation was actually quite noble if misguided. Though Teams Flare and Galactic had the same idea of cutting the population down to rid the world of its flaws, they still had an idea of what they wanted to do and how they were going to do it.
If the developers are not going to go to the effort of characterizing their villains beyond mayhem for mayhem's sake, they might as well not have villains.
5. Take Out The Pushover Rivals
Since Gold & Silver, there has not been any rival that was genuinely opposed to the player, as in, they are actively rooting against them.
Blue and Silver both weren't that fond of the player character, but grew friendlier and matured as the games went on. Since then, the rivals have merely been weak friends of the protagonist, and hardly qualifying as a challenge.
It might be an effort to market to children, but the rivals used to be enjoyably antagonistic, where the player is compelled to beat them. As of X & Y or Sun & Moon, it feels more like beating up the smallest kid in class and taking their lunch money.
Some of the rivals, like Barry or Hugh, actually provide some tough battles, but the majority are the equivalent of watered down afterschool specials to teach kids about friendship.
Black & White introduced Bianca, a rival whose starter Pokémon was at a type disadvantage to the player, but had Cheren, a rival with a type advantage. That at least made sense, even when they replicated the idea with Shauna and Serena in X & Y, but Hau from Sun & Moon is laughably inept compared to Blue or Silver.
Game Freak would do better to give players a character they actually wanted to beat because they were invested in winning.
4. Return To Formula
Pokémon is famous for its simple formula that has been present in every game until the release of Sun & Moon: Travel from city to city, challenge Pokémon gyms and defeat their leaders.
In the new games, the cities were changed to islands and the gyms to trials. It's commendable that they went to the effort of developing unique trials instead of repeating gyms, but it really takes away from the game on second consideration.
For something that sounds so small, changing the format is actually a massive change, since this is the first time that the main games had their primary plot altered.
Despite the ambition behind the idea, the change wasn't truly warranted. No one was growing tired of the regular gameplay, and the only people who might have complained that Pokémon has not changed since its inception are people who wouldn't have bought the games anyway.
It just feels like changing the formula just to change it and take away from the method that had served the franchise for two decades. In addition, making each trial a different task turns the entire game off-kilter. Hopefully, in future installments, they'll return to the roots of what made the series successful.
3. Balance Pokémon Amie/Refresh
When first introduced in X & Y, Pokémon Amie was a way to bond players and Pokémon. It allowed them small things like petting or feeding Pokémon, and in Sun & Moon, when the name was changed to Refresh, the player could clean a Pokémon up after a battle. It wasn't a big change, but it was a neat feature and added more depth to the game.
The bonus of Amie and Refresh was that it gave special perks to the Pokémon the player spent time with. Some extra experience points, randomly curing status conditions, but for a small amount of work, a player could completely unbalance the game.
It's an advantage that upsets game mechanics when players get unnaturally more critical hits and can dodge attacks.
This is a case of GameFreak being unable to make the game the right level of difficulty. In their efforts to appeal to the child demographic, they make the game unplayable for everyone else. Perhaps this could be remedied by reducing the extra experience to be at random, or make these bonuses harder to acquire, but as they stand currently, they take away from the game.
2. Return The Experience Share To Its Old Self
In the first five generations of Pokémon, the Exp. Share was a balanced and convenient way to train weak Pokémon without constantly switching them out in a battle for stronger team members. It had just the right amount of power, not being too strong so that it made the game too easy, but also being a genuine way of training.
However, from every game since X & Y, the Exp. Share is an unbalanced monster. Once turned on, it gives experience points to every member of the team, meaning that the Pokémon advance at such a fast rate they're soon 20 levels above anything they're fighting.
In the midst of battling the Elite Four, with levels consistently in the mid-60s, a player could have a team upwards of level 80 without much effort.
If the Exp. Share is turned on, the game becomes too easy, but that isn't the problem. The real issue is that turning it off isn't an option because the level curve of the games was created to accommodate easy level accumulation. If they left the Exp. Share as it was, then it makes sense for younger players, but if left off, the game is turned into hours of grinding in comparison to minutes of actual playing.
1. Bring Bicycles Back
Since Red & Blue, the fastest mode of transportation on the small scale has been a key item, your bicycle. X & Y innovated on this, by giving the player roller skates before the bike, but they did not delete it from the game.
Unfortunately, Sun & Moon removed the feature that had been part of the franchise since it had first begun, replacing it with riding fast moving Pokémon like Tauros. It is an outrage, and fans cannot and should not stand for it.
All of the outrages aside, Tauros was an unreliable method of transportation, because the mechanics surrounding him were too clunky to control. That might be by design, as the player is literally bull riding, but it doesn't hold up to the sleeker and more efficient biking in X & Y.
It is a small detail, but it is one of the story beats that fans have known and enjoyed for years. It's almost peculiar as to why the developers would remove a feature as time-tested as the bicycle and not replace it with something far superior.